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August 13, 2014 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Obesity and the Rise of Kidney Stones

By Jason More Blogs by This Author

High blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and high cholesterol are all common ailments associated with obesity. But a lesser known problem that is often overlooked by the general public is the link between obesity and the rise of kidney stones.

Over the last 10 years the number of Americans who suffer kidney stones has nearly doubled, and researchers believe that obesity is the underlying reason.

Kidney stones originate in a number of different ways. They are an accumulation of different dissolved minerals that come together to form spiky, crystalline rocks within the urinary tract. They are commonly composed of calcium, uric acid, magnesium, or cystine. 

Calcium Stones

Calcium kidney stones are the most commonly seen form. Both calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate are present in these stones. Although they can result from a number of different causes, one condition that often causes their formation is hyperparathyroidism.

Hyperparathyroidism is defined as over-activity of the tiny glands in the neck located next to the thyroid, known as the parathyroid glands. When properly functioning, these glands secrete a measured amount of PTH (Parathyroid Hormone) which helps monitor and control the amount of calcium in the bloodstream.

When these glands release too much PTH, the amount of calcium increases accordingly. And because the body can’t use the extra calcium, it is filtered out by the kidneys and sent into the urinary tract to be excreted. Unfortunately, as this excess calcium accumulates within the urinary tract, the separate molecules often come together to form kidney stones. 

Uric Acid Stones

Another common form of kidney stone is formed from uric acid. This waste product is normally passed out of the body by way of the urinary tract; but in some cases, particularly if excess uric acid is present within the body, it can accumulate and form kidney stones. 

Excess uric acid can be traced back to a number of causes, one of the most prominent being diet. For example, consumption of high amounts of animal proteins, particularly those high in fat or found in red meats, is known to put patients at higher risk for uric acid stones. Excessive alcohol drinking can also put people at risk.

Struvite Stones

Although less common, struvite stones are made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate. They often come about as a result of a kidney or urinary tract infection. While there are many factors involved in causing a kidney or urinary tract infection, those with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk than most. 

Cystine Stones

Cystine stones are the least common type of kidney stones. They are most likely to occur as a result of genetics and can usually be treated with medication.

There are many different causes of kidney stones, but the relationship between obesity and the rise of kidney stones is clear. By making positive lifestyle changes, namely those related to reducing your weight, you can decrease your chances of developing them in the future.

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